Are you looking for the perfect family hike? As a family we love hiking as it gets you outdoors amongst often spectacular scenery. On our recent round the world trip we hiked some spectacular routes, including the Great Wall of China, Table Mountain in South Africa, the Valley of the Winds in Uluru, Australia and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. Our family loves hikes with a bit of adventure – rocks, water, scrambling, climbing, stunning views – anything to keep up the interest!
In this post we and fellow family travel bloggers share some of the best family hikes around the world. With hikes on five continents, some are short, some are long, something for families with children of all ages.
KRKA NATIONAL PARK, CROATIA by THE FAMILY VOYAGE
We often find that the biggest challenge of hiking with kids is mental rather than physical. They need to be motivated to get on the trail, and then either motivated or distracted to keep going. During our family’s recent trip to Croatia, we found that the main trail around Krka National Park offered the right balance of physical challenge and interesting sites to keep our crew going!
In order to access the park, most people take a short but pretty boat ride from the tiny town of Skradin. From there you’ll walk past bathrooms, a shop, a restaurant and more. The hike begins and ends with a spectacular, up-close view of Krka’s famous waterfall along a wooden boardwalk. The main trail is a 2km loop that goes up one side of the falls, across the small pools at the top, and then descends along the other side of the waterfall. Our 5 year old had no trouble with the trail, even the somewhat steep ascent, as most of it is steps or extremely well-trod paths. Our 3 year old walked parts of the path and was carried for other parts.
Once you reach the top, the waterfall is largely out of view but the real fun begins! The flat, winding boardwalks take you through marshes and across streams where you’ll be blown away by the ferocious din of croaking frogs looking for mates and you’ll see huge royal blue dragonflies buzzing around. The thick foliage provides nice protection while the kids run around in wonder.
The final stage of hiking around Krka’s waterfalls is a rather uneventful descent along many, many stairs. Our little one couldn’t handle the steps just yet and our older one almost got bored until we got his mind active by counting the steps – we got to some pretty high numbers.
While most people have Plitvice on their bucket list (and we loved that too!) Krka offers easier logistics for a family, and on a nice day you can even finish off with a swim in the falls and an ice cream!
LOFOTEN ISLANDS, NORWAY by OPHELIE AND CREW
Famous for their breathtaking mountain sceneries and stunning turquoise-water fjords, the Lofoten Islands are a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. The archipelago is a magical place beyond the Arctic Circle, where dreamlike landscapes of sharp mountain peaks take roots directly from the sea. The diversity of landscapes here is amazing, and there is no single outstanding walk. A number of hikes are strenuous and require proper training, but many remain accessible for families in summer.
One of our favourite hike is Tjeldbergtinden, a cross-country hike in the Austvågøya island, located in the northeast of Lofoten. The hike starts from the city of Svolvær and takes you to the Tjeldbergtinden summit. Although it is only 367 metres high, it offers an awesome view overlooking the city of Svolvær (the capital of Lofoten) and the whole Vestfjord. You then climb to a small plateau that has a number of stunning viewpoints along the way. The way back to the valley is through a wooded area, where moose are living. Looking for them is a great way to keep kids excited and if you are lucky you may see one of them! The hike ends at the picturesque little village of Kabelvåg which is the oldest port in the Lofoten Islands.
The hike is 8km total with about 500m total elevation. Signs and guides usually indicate 3-4 hours walk. However, for us, with two children aged 6 and 7 it took 5 full hours, including a picnic and several snack breaks. For children it is a challenging hike, but really worth the effort. There is a nice ice-cream shop in the picturesque village of Kabelvåg, a well deserved reward for the whole family, after a long hike!
SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK, ICELAND by THE ABBOTTSES
The final leg of our Icelandic roadtrip was Skaftafell National Park.
The Park was simply huge, and impossible to take it all in in the few hours we had there. There are various hikes to do for various skill levels (there is a visitor centre which will help you with this). We had a toddler on our backs and a very miserable 5 year old that was already moaning when we arrived! I was worried we had come all this way and not be able to see anything! But we set off, determined.
I would say the hike we chose (Svartifoss) was very easy to navigate and not too difficult, the hike takes you past various waterfalls, getting gradually bigger in size and ending with the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall with it’s numerous basalt columns. We kept motivating my 5 year old the whole way and cheering her on – she was so proud of herself by the time she reached the top!
The glaciers are also close by (something I was desperately excited to see) and have their own hike which we decided not to do with the kids being so young but they were accessible by car for some wonderful photos.
THE LATRABJARG CLIFFS, ICELAND by WANDERING WAGARS
The Latrabjarg bird cliffs are situated in the remote Westfjords of Iceland. But for those who make the journey out to one of the most beautiful regions of this North Atlantic country between April and September will be blessed by the site of millions of colourful puffins flitting through the air. The Latrabjarg cliffs make an incredible family friendly hiking location. They are easy to hike, and you can travel as much or as little of the 14 km cliffside trail as you would like. Kids will be amazed at how close they can get to these beautiful birds. But be careful. The cliffs can reach heights of 441 metres and there are no safety barriers.
GRINDELWALD FIRST TO BACHALPSEE LAKE, SWITZERLAND by BIG ADVENTURES FOR LITTLE FEET
MT. BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA by HILL TRIBE TRAVELS
Mt Buffalo National Park is located in the Alpine Region of Victoria, Australia. It covers 77,000 acres and there are many walks available showcasing the amazing granite boulders and rock formations found throughout the whole park – many of these walks are suitable for kids.
We took the kids on a few walks in the area but there is one that stands out as the best – It is just so much fun and the kids absolutely loved it. It is a challenging walk with rock scrambling, climbing down ladders and sliding under rocks!
It’s called the Chalwell Galleries Track and it is approximately a 1.7km long circuit which can take anywhere from 1 hour. It took us longer than this, but we did have 4 kids with us ranging from 4 years old to a 5 month old (in a baby carrier!). The start of the walk is sign posted from the camping area close to the ranger station. It is relatively flat to start before you begin to climb up and over the rocks. There are arrows to follow which is great fun for the kids to try and find and work out which way to go.
The track then takes you up into the ‘galleries’; the galleries are huge rocks which form a tight passage way, which you climb down into by going under a big rock and then climb down using ladders. We had a couple of adults go down each ladder first and then help the kids down and we kept progressing like this. It was a little slow going to make sure everyone was safely down to the next level before moving into the next ladder.
Once you pop out the bottom there are fantastic views of the Buckland Valley. There are a couple of other rocks to climb under on the way home but then it turns to a relatively easy walk back to the camping area.
Our family loves hiking with adventures like this – rocks, scrambling, ladders, views!
GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIA by 5 LOST TOGETHER
Australia may be best known for its beaches, but there are some beautiful mountainous area worth exploring as well. Just three hours from Melbourne, Grampians National Park may not be well-known by tourists, but is a really popular bushwalking area for locals. The towering gums and sandstone mountains feature classic Aussie animals like wallabies, emus and echidnas. The most popular walk in the Park is to the Pinnacles, a 4.2km 2-hour moderately-challenging hike. Our kids loved the ascent as we hopped between boulders through the Grand Canyon. Once at the top, you are rewarded with a dramatic lookout and beautiful views over the Grampians. While the Pinnacles is the most popular walk in the Park, there are also beautiful waterfalls and ancient Aboriginal rock art to explore.
MEDLANDS BEACH TO ANCHORAGE BAY, ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALAND by 4 WORN PASSPORTS
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a 32 mile hike along the coastal forest of Abel Tasman National Park, know as one of New Zealand’s “Nine Great Walks.” The seven mile Medlands Beach to Anchorage Bay segment makes for a spectacular day hike for families with older children. This section begins on a beach and ends on a beach and meanders through the lush forest with foot bridges and giant ferns.
This seven mile trek is not very strenuous and offers spectacular views of beaches and bays along the way. Your adventure begins with a coastal cruise on a local water taxi from Kaiteriteri to your starting point at Medlands Beach. After your trek along the coast, you will finish on a beautiful bay where you can relax in the sand until your water taxi picks you up for your return to Kaiteriteri.
The best part of hiking in New Zealand? You don’t have to worry about snakes!
SIMATAI WEST TO JINSHANLING, GREAT WALL OF CHINA by GO LIVE YOUNG
The Great Wall of China spans thousands of kilometres, stretching from the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. It is an iconic sight and one of the ‘new seven wonders of the world’. We hiked a section of the Great Wall, from Simatai West to Jinshanling, encompassing both restored and unrestored parts of the wall. This section offers amazing views of the wall snaking across the mountain peaks, plenty of watchtowers (23 in total), and few visitors. It is a 6 km hike taking between 3-4 hours in total.
Firstly you have to get up to the wall at Simatai West. 1400 steps later and we’d made it! From the top, at one of the many watchtowers, we had our first panoramic views of the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall snaked off in either direction following the mountain tops.
For three and a half hours we hiked along the Great Wall of China….initially on the crumbling, unrestored sections close to Simatai West and later on the more restored sections closer to Jinshanling.
At the time of hiking, our kids were 8, 10 and 12 years old. If your kids have the energy, seeing the unrestored sections are much more exciting for children than the restored areas. Our boys all loved the unrestored section of the wall as it was more challenging with steep slippery slopes, crumbling steps and steep drops from the wall where the stone railings had fallen away into the valley far below. Here you can read the whole story on hiking the Great Wall of China with kids.
The Dragon’s Back is the most famous hike in Hong Kong. It is a relatively easy hike with fabulous views – and it ends on a beach. What more could you ask for? After the initial ascent of around 200m, it is an easy ramble along the undulating spinal ridge of the mountain, which gives the ‘Dragon’s Back’ its name.
The hike is renowned for its amazing views – over beaches and out to sea on one side, and over the mountains to the other. The highest point of the trail is Shek O Peak at 284metres, and from here you have views in all directions.
The Dragon’s Back hike finishes on the beach in Big Wave Bay, where the kids can play in the sand while mum and dad rehydrate to the sound of the crashing waves.
MT. DIAMONJI-YAMA, KYOTO, JAPAN by FAMILY CAN TRAVEL
As we were planning our trip to Japan, we were pleasantly surprised to learn what a great hiking destination it is. Kyoto, in particular, is a great option, since there are several hikes that can be accessed directly from within the city by public transporation.
One of our favourites was hiking up Mt. Diamonji-yama. This hike follows a beautiful, serene path through the trees and has some incredible views at the top as a reward. Mt. Diamonji-yama is also one of the five hillsides where a bonfire is lit as part of the Obon Festival every August. The fire lit on Mt. Diamonji-yama is one of the most popular as it is widely seen throughout the city.
Getting there is easy as the trailhead is conveniently located just a short walk down the road from the popular and beautiful Ginkakuji temple. Allowing time to enjoy both makes for a great morning. There are also plenty of food stalls nearby so getting a snack before or a matcha ice cream after as a reward helps to motivate the kids.
This hike is steep at parts but it’s short at approximately 1.9mi/3.1km. Most members of the family should be able to complete the hike (our 3 year old made it most of the way up). Don’t forget to bring snacks with you to enjoy at the top while you take in the view overlooking Kyoto!
LITTLE ADAMS PEAK, SRI LANKA by TRAVELYNN FAMILY
As we approached the steps to start the short but steep climb up to the summit of Little Adam’s Peak, a New Zealand lady came down huffing and puffing in a sweat. “You’re not taking the little ones up there are you?” she exclaimed with her eyebrows raised. Us parents glanced at each other concerned that we may be pushing the boys too far.
But in fact, our boys (then aged 2 and 3.5) found it no problem whatsoever. They love to climb and naturally kids that age take it slowly as there is always a stick to pick up or a leaf to investigate. Plus, chocolate is always a good incentive! It took us about 40 minutes to reach the top (most adults do it in half the time) and the views were incredible! Miles of lush green mountains and tea plantations, and on a clear day you can even see Arugam Bay on the East Coast.
To do the climb, you’ll need to base yourselves in Ella for a day or so, which has some fantastic family homestays. You can take a tuk-tuk out of town to the start of the track if you want to save those little legs for the climb. After your hike, we recommend enjoying a refreshing juice at the cafe overlooking Nine Arches Bridge. Older kids may then enjoy a walk down to the bridge to walk along the tracks. However, our boys were ready for a nap after their hike!
ERAWAN FALLS, KANCHANABURI, THAILAND by 4 WORN PASSPORTS
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, be sure to include Kanchanaburi in your itinerary. Kanchanaburi is located 2.5 hours northwest of Bangkok. Many people try to visit Kanchanburi as a day trip from Bangkok, but that is a mistake! Kanchanaburi offers so much to do that you will be disappointed if you don’t spend at least a night or two here.
In addition to brushing up on your WWII history at the famed Bridge over River Kwai, Hellfire Pass Museum, Death Railway and Allied War Cemetery, the area also offers up-close-and-personal elephant and tiger experiences. However, the crown jewel of Kanchanaburi is Erawan Falls.
Erawan Falls is a national park that offers a spectacular 7-level waterfall hike. It’s a great hike for families because just when the kids are about to start complaining, you magically reach another level of the falls. After a refreshing swim in the beautiful pools at each level, you are ready to continue your hike. This is the one hike in the world where I didn’t hear a single complaint from my kids!
DELICATE ARCH, ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, UTAH, USA by FULL SUITCASE
We love hiking and try to always do the best hike everywhere we travel. One of the most memorable and iconic hikes we have done with kids was the hike to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah, USA. This hike is not very long (3.2 miles – 5.2km), but is really strenuous and especially so in the summer heat. It was over 105°F (40°C) when we visited Arches NP and we were not sure if we could even attempt this hike with three young children. However, it’s said to be the most beautiful hike in Arches and so we didn’t want to miss it. Here you can read the whole story about hiking to Delicate Arch with kids, but to keep the long story short, we made it.
The landscape along the way was phenomenal and the view over the Delicate Arch at sunset – unforgettable. This hike has become one of our top-5 hikes ever, so if you ever find yourself in the area, make an effort and hike to the Delicate Arch. You won’t regret it.
WHITE POCKET, UTAH/ARIZONA, USA by LIFE EDUCATION TRAVEL
White Pocket, along the Utah/Arizona border, is challenging to get to but well worth the effort. If you don’t have a 4×4, you can hire a tour guide in Kanab Utah. Our guide was Brent Johnson from Forever Adventure Tours. He is local to the area and provided a wealth of information during the drive, but also gave my family space to explore on our own.
Since White Pocket is not easily accessible it is the perfect place for a tranquil family hike after spending days battling the crowds of Zion or Bryce. A very short sandy path leads you out of the parking lot. Then, the trail ends and you’re free to explore the stunning other-worldly landscape. The swirling colors contrast with patches of whiteness that make you feel like you just succeeded in landing on the moon. Besides the impressive topography, the best part about this hike is you can make it strenuous or relaxing depending on your family’s interests and abilities.
TABLE MOUNTAIN, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA by GO LIVE YOUNG
Climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is a hugely rewarding and fun thing to do. You are rewarded with spectacular views of the city and coastline. This was one of our favourite activities whilst in Cape Town.
There are numerous ways to summit Table Mountain. We chose to hike up Platteklip Gorge, a steep two hour climb, up a gorge at the front of the mountain. It is a tough climb but rewarding for its spectacular views over Cape Town. The path is easy to follow although very steep and rocky. It is a strenuous hike but our boys aged 12, 11 and 8 at the time, all managed well. They thought it was like climbing steps in the hot sun for two hours! This hike would be recommended for families with older children.
Once at the top you can opt to take the cable car back down, as we did. There are no queues for the cable car at the top so this is a great way to ride. As you travel the pod rotates 360 degrees so everybody gets spectacular views on the journey up or down.
Do you have a best family hike in the world that you did not see on this list? Leave a comment below and let us know about it!